All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…2 Timothy 3:16
There’s been an energetic discussion recently about how Christians are to view the Old Testament. Some statements made by a well-known pastor might have been the spark that ignited the blaze.
But the upside of the controversy is that it has presented an opportunity for Christ-followers to clarify their view of the Old Testament. Is it still relevant? If so, how does it apply? Since the Old Testament is old, should we just ditch it for the new one? After all, that’s what we do with our old phones, old shoes, old flames, etc. : )
Of course, the answer is no, we should not ditch it. And here are a few reasons why:
One, we should not disregard the Old Testament because God is its author (see 2 Peter 1:21). Both Old and New testaments were inspired (breathed out) by God. While He used people like Moses, David, and Isaiah to put it all in writing, ultimately everything in the Old Testament originated with God. He is the Source of the Old Testament’s contents and, therefore, it has eternal value. While we need the New Testament to fully understand the meaning of the Old Testament, the former did not functionally delete the latter.
Two, the Old Testament points us to Christ. From Genesis to Malachi, the Old Testament is talking about Jesus. True, in many cases it may be subtle and obscure, but if you read the Old Testament with a mind to find Jesus, you will find Him. Like gold in a mountain, there is a Messianic vein that runs throughout its pages (see Luke 24:13-27). The more time you spend there, thoughtfully digging and sifting, the more you perceive the presence of Christ there.
Three, the Old Testament provides a lot of real-life examples, some good and some bad. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul makes it clear that Christians are not to discard the Old Testament, particularly the narrative of the children of Israel. He says specifically,
“Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” (v. 6)
Paul upholds the contemporary relevance of the Old Testament by saying that it gives us an example of WHAT NOT TO DO. It is a valuable look at the outcome of choosing idols over the living God. If we fail to read the Old Testament and its dramatic description of believers worshiping a golden calf, adopting pagan lifestyles, and chronically questioning God’s faithfulness, we might forget that those things never work work out well in the end. We read their story so as not to repeat it, or if necessary, to repent when we ourselves have gone astray.
The Old Testament is old, but not obsolete. Sure, there are parts of it that may leave us scratching our heads, but its lessons are on point now more than ever. There’s a reason it has long been a companion to its counterpart, the New Testament. Let’s not make the mistake of ditching it.
It’s a new day with God. Run with it.
2 thoughts on “Old but On Point – How to Approach the Old Testament Today”
Right on! Erwin Luther made the point in ‘The God Who Speaks’ that he can’t believe less than what Jesus believed…and Jeaus had absolute confidence in the Old Testament.
Good point Lisa, Jesus quoted the OT repeatedly. Thank you for reading : )